I wrote a couple days ago that we might have to evacuate due to Hurricane Matthew. Many of you offered some really kind words, and I really appreciate the positive thoughts and prayers. The good news is I am writing this from Georgetown, Kentucky—so obviously we did end up evacuating. Here’s a brief recap.
Our governor, Nikki Haley, announced that evacuations would begin on Wednesday at 3 p.m. (EST). We decided to fuel up our vehicles as soon as this was announced, and it’s a good thing we did. We took the car to the gas station about 20 minutes after hearing the potential evacuation order, and it still took almost an hour of line-time to get gasoline.
After dealing with the chaos of simply getting gas, we decided not to wait until Wednesday to leave. We got home and started packing. Unfortunately, we still had to wait for the base (where my wife works) to give us permission. Permission came at around 7 p.m. that evening. Thor’s bedtime is 8 p.m., and we figured we should leave then so he would sleep for most of the trip.
Here are some of the things that were involved in the mad rush to leave.
- We had to ensure we had all essential documents with us. We placed a special emphasis on having our home-owner insurance (we have a portable safe for documents).
- Anything outside of the house (i.e. grill, metal firepit, flower pots) had to be brought indoors so they wouldn’t be tossed through windows.
- Anything essential that could be destroyed by water, we moved to a center room with no windows and put them at elevation. This probably won’t matter if we get nine feet of storm surge, but hey, you can’t blame us for trying.
- As my desktop computer is pretty essential to my work, it came with us.
- We didn’t worry about stockpiling water, food, and propane as we were going to leave.
- We did bring diapers, baby food, cat food, and a small amount of food and water in case we were delayed during the evacuation.
- Given my wife has been freezing excess breast-milk in the hopes of being able to stop pumping a little early, we brought that with us. A prolonged power outage will ruin the contents of our freezer and fridge.
The drive from South Carolina to Kentucky usually takes us about eight hours. In the first five hours of travel time, we had barely moved. I wasn’t upset about this. I was happy people had the sense to evacuate. All told, it took us twelve hours to get to Georgetown (my mother-in-law lives there).
During the trip, Niblet (our cat) would start meowing, then Thor would start making noise, and vice versa. Basically, if one was awake, they were both awake. They both slept like champs if we were moving, but much of our travel time was spent in stop-and-go traffic.
Some people evacuated to hotels, but with a baby and a cat, this would be pretty inconvenient. Also, if the coastline really gets thrashed, it would be costly to be in a hotel for a few weeks.
With 200+ people dead in Haiti and the Caribbean already, I really hope people are taking this hurricane seriously. We can argue about the infrastructure of Haiti compared to the US, but if you’ve ever seen the aftermath of a serious weather event, you’ll know infrastructure doesn’t matter to Mother Nature.
If you are staying on the coast, my prayers are with you. Matthew has surged in power as it moves toward Florida. Gaining in strength back to a Category 4. From the National Hurricane Center, a Category 4 is described as:
“Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
My academic training in homeland security has taught me to not take these things lightly. Also, my job a Navy journalist, photographer, and combat cameraman has shown me first-hand the destruction and loss of life extreme weather events cause. I promise you, nothing in your home is worth your life. Please be safe and don’t take unnecessary risks.
Regardless, I should be back on track for posting and work now that I’m safely in Kentucky. I am going to still take a day or two to do maintenance. I will recycle older posts in the meantime. Until then – stay safe.